Legends, Folk, and Popular Culture

Posted by: | February 4, 2009 | Comments Off on Legends, Folk, and Popular Culture

The Folk, when I think of folk for the most part I think of “low culture”, is this wrong? Probably yes, after reading the four short stories for the week, I realized that if these are considered “folk”, then “folk” isn’t what I presumed it to be, and it definitely isn’t low culture. Now for me to try and define what that is would be like trying to define “people” on my own. So, I’m going to stay away from it.

However, I would like to talk about the “Legend of the Crystal Mask.” Unlike the other two stories from Asturias, this one I was actually able to read it without zoning out. Some people have mentioned in their blogs that this author reminds them of Magical Realism, well I agree… Now, I am not a big fan of “magical realism” because it leaves almost nothing to the imagination, almost everything is outlined for you. However, in the case of the “Legend of the Crystal Mask” the magical realism really did it for me. Check page 92, when Asturias describes how the man works on the mask:

“Days and days of toil… without stopping. Almost without sleeping. He could do no more. His hands scratched, his face cut, injuries which, before they healed, were replaced by new injuries, lacerated and almost blinded by the splinters and the infinite dust of quartz, clacking for water, water, water to drink, and water for bathing the chunk of pure crystallized light that was gong to take the form of a face.”

I felt like as if I was watching this person going at it… like a person on some sort of drug. Crazy about finishing your work…, and then Asturias throws you a bone by saying that the artist was “drenched in madman’s sweat”. Yes, yes, yes! The artist was going mad, with his work… and then the conclusion:

in the end he had it, carved in white fire, polished with dust from the necklace of eyes and snail shells. Its sheen was blinding and when he put it on – the Mask of the Rain Nurse – he had the sensation of emptying his transient being into a drop of immortal water.

Now, why is this relevant? When we started talking about culture, we talked about journeys. I mean literally, with the usual bus trip that eventually turns out to be a very complex set of ideas in a few paragraphs. And then, I thought, oh well, what about epic journeys and their contribution to culture. The great paintings, the epic poems, the grand architectural structures, what about the journeys that the artist and the people went through when creating them? Could that also be part of a collective memory that eventually becomes part of the popular culture?

I might have gone mad, but for some reason the week of ‘folk’ lead me to start thinking about the collective memory of society and how that affects popular culture. Anyways, I’m leaving that adjust some food for thought.

I’m out


Comments are closed.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet